How to Raise an Unplugged Kid

1. What are your family values?

What do you value most in your family? It could be just one overarching theme that you value above all else; or, maybe you’ve got a top three. Ten Commandments? Golden Rule? Once you figure out what YOU value most, and what you want for your family – write ’em down.

2. What’s the plan?

Make a plan. Put it in writing. You may want to eliminate screen time altogether; you may want 1-hour per day per child; maybe just no screens at dinner- whatever your fancy, figure out that sweet-spot for your household that won’t overly-shelter your children AND will help accomplish your goals of instilling your values which you established in step 1.

3. Do a “screen-free” day

If you’ve ever done a “spend-free” day…. it’s the same concept. Pick a day where NOBODY (parents most importantly) use a screen. Leave your phone at home if you go somewhere. Keep it on the charger when at home. Hide the TV remotes. Biggest thing, though: plan alternate activities to fill your day. If you don’t, there WILL be drama. Next, pick a day that will always be screen-free. For example, we like Friday. The kids get off school, we do homework, go out for dinner and ice cream, then have a family game night. This does a wonderful job of setting up for our weekend.

4. Set the pace with ROUTINE

I sound like my mom here, but it works: MAKE A ROUTINE. Studies have proven time and again that routine makes everyone (especially young children) feel secure and confident in themselves and their lives. It also reduces everybody’s anxiety level by largely reducing our on-the-spot decision making. What’s for dinner? What are we doing today? Our family makes a dinner menu for the week on Sunday; game night Friday; and, other corresponding activities throughout the week.

5. Lastly, (and, I think, most importantly) set up your home so that you can be a present parent

Going back to routine – plan your days and weeks out so that everything gets done in a consistent fashion. You’ll have to pick some tasks that just don’t get done. And you’ll have to be okay with that. If you work a plan each day and week, you won’t be pressed to scramble at the last minute to get everything done – thus eliminating the need for those quick-fix kid activities such as SCREEN TIME. Being present for your kids is more important than any load of laundry, any full dishwasher, and anybody’s Facebook timeline.

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